Foreign business groups urge rethink on draft residency law

By SEAN GLEESON | FRONTIER

YANGON — Several business lobby groups have publicly urged the Union government to revise aspects of the draft Law Concerning Foreigners, citing concerns over possible restrictions on the domestic travel of foreign workers.

In a Tuesday statement, nine organisations representing foreign businesses in Myanmar said the travel permission outlined in the bill would not be practical for foreign workers and had the potential to deter investment.

The bill’s draft requires residents in possession of a Foreigner Registration Certificate to gain approval from township immigration registrars for any travel outside their registered addresses for more than 24 hours.

Those subject to the law would also require to notify the immigration office of their arrival once reaching their destination.

Support more independent journalism like this. Sign up to be a Frontier member.

“It would in practice hardly be possible for foreign employees to comply with such regulation, particularly for business trips on short notice, including meetings with the government authorities in Nay Pyi Taw,” the statement read. “The resulting risk of exposing any employee to a situation of incompliance with prevailing Myanmar law would be a major impediment for foreign companies to establish a business in the Republic of the Union Myanmar, not to speak of launching large investment projects.”

The bill is slated for consideration during the current session of the Union Parliament, which began Monday.

Also scheduled for discussion is the draft Foreign Workers Law. In its current form, the law would establish a new Union-level committee to administer a work permit system that scrutinises the medical records, employment contracts and credentials of every foreign worker in the country.

While the Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population is confident it can administer the proposed laws efficiently, experts have warned the new rules would undermine business confidence and encourage graft in the civil service.

“Fighting corruption, improving the business environment, strengthening the rule of law… are all priorities of the government,” Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business director Ms Vicky Bowman told Frontier last week. “So it’s puzzling that the Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population is putting forward these two laws, which undermine all of those government objectives.”

Tuesday’s statement was signed by the heads of chambers of commerce representing businesses from the European Union, United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, France, United States, Australia and New Zealand.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email

More stories

Latest Issue

Stories in this issue
Myanmar enters 2021 with more friends than foes
The early delivery of vaccines is one of the many boons of the country’s geopolitics, but to really take advantage, Myanmar must bury the legacy of its isolationist past.
Will the Kayin BGF go quietly?
The Kayin State Border Guard Force has come under intense pressure from the Tatmadaw over its extensive, controversial business interests and there’s concern the ultimatum could trigger fresh hostilities in one of the country’s most war-torn areas.

Stay on top of Myanmar current affairs with our Daily Briefing and Media Monitor newsletters

Our fortnightly magazine is available in print, digital, or a combination beginning at $80 a year

Sign up for our Frontier Fridays newsletter. It’s a free weekly round-up featuring the most important events shaping Myanmar